‘Birth of a Nation’: Black people want to feel supported


Fox Searchlight

Nate Parker takes on the role of Nat Turner, a slave turned preacher, who organized a slave rebellion.

Dominique Smith, Opinions Editor

I wonder how many people still don’t understand why “Black Lives Matter”.

I also wonder how many of those people made it out to see director, writer and producer Nate Parker’s version of “The Birth of a Nation.”

Nat Turner’s Rebellion, on which “Birth of a Nation” is based, was an actual historical event. If you haven’t taken any African American history, you may not have known this.

In 1831, Turner, born a slave, gathered about 40 other slaves to join him in a rebellion against the slave owners of the south with the hopes of freeing himself and his people.

Turner’s rebellion and Parker’s version of  “Birth of a Nation” are significant because even in 2016 African American people are still struggling to be seen as equals, specifically to white people and law enforcement.

I’ll be honest. The movie was more focused on the slavery aspect of history rather than the actual slave rebellion. And of course, because it’s a movie, it was fabricated a bit, so seeing the movie won’t be equivalent to reading a primary source about the actual rebellion.

But the point I’m trying to get across is that it’s vital and appreciated among the black community when non-black people show interest in learning about African American history. Even if it means going to the movies to see an African American history-related film.

Unarguably, black people have been oppressed, are still being oppressed and live in a system that was not created for people of color to succeed in. So when other races do more than acknowledge that we went through and still go through hell, it means the world.

If Americans knew more about African American history, other than slavery, maybe there would be more empathetic people in this country.

Maybe people would better understand why there’s mass incarceration of black men, why “Black Lives Matter” and why many black people are angry.

Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”  was filled with powerful scenes and imagery. It was especially tearjerking because of the subtle ways it reminds the viewer of injustices still prevalent today.

Not long before the Oct. 7 release of the film, reports of a past rape trial surfaced involving Parker and co-writer, Jean Celestin.

According to Parker, who addressed the trial in a recent interview with “Variety,” the rape charges against him were dropped. However, Celestin was found guilty and sentenced.

Rape is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s much too common in our society. It’s not okay and I don’t condone it whatsoever.

But I will say this, I don’t think Parker or Celestin’s past is a viable reason for the movie to be overshadowed. It’s not fair and comes off as if African American history is not as important.